Misinformed USA: Why average Americans vote for Republicans
March 23, 2012 (Updated Feb, 20, 2014)
One can only wonder why average working class Americans would vote for a party that is so obvious in their bias towards the wealthy. It would make sense that someone in the top 1 percent of the income bracket would vote for the Republican party since they have the wealthiest American's best interest at heart. You could even make the case that highly religious Christians would vote for Republicans even though, at times, they vote against their own best economic interests. So the question remains, while scratching your head, why do working class Americans vote for Republican candidates?
I once sat down and spoke with an acquaintance of mine, trying to get a grip on what people are thinking about the future of our country. He said he voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 because, "we need a business person to get our debt down." I asked where he got his news and information from, and after trying to deflect from the question, the answer finally came. "I don't pay attention too much, but when I do, I watch Fox." Fox News is the primary source for information for millions of Americans across the country and that's where the problem starts.
Whether it's Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity or other right wing ideologues, Fox News is a tunnel vision information outlet with only one particular agenda that is being pushed through. Millions of Americans watch Fox News, listen to the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Neal Boortz, Michael Savage and others while getting information from right wing think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute. With big businesses and billionaire allies, the truth and facts in American have gone from a clear right and wrong, black and white situation to muffled shades of gray. It's not to say that Fox News, the Cato Institute and others like them totally lie because that would be too difficult to pull off. What these think tanks do, is take a fact and twist it to fit their own personal agenda, leaving out key information that would contradict with the platform they're trying to create.
A perfect example in describing the way groups like the Cato Institute operate is a report that came out by alternet.org. In the early 2000s, the Cato Institute released a report that suggested that families receiving welfare were making between $17,000 and $25,000 a year, but the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities countered that claim. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities showed that the average income for welfare recipients was below $9,000 a year, which is nearly $3,000 a year below the poverty line.
The misinformation also comes from another right wing think tank, the Heritage Foundation. In 2011, when Paul Ryan released the "Ryan" Republican budget, the Heritage Foundation claimed that unemployment would drop to 6.4% in 2012 and to 2.8% in 2022. A report released by the Washington Monthly pointed out that these claims were extremely exaggerated. The CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, showed the errors of the Heritage Foundation's report and the director of the Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis, William Beach, was forced to walk backed the claims.
In 2009, the Heritage Foundation released ads attacking the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that was brought to congress that would give all employees the right to form a union without fear of being fired from their current job. Since the Heritage Foundation is bought and paid for by million and billionaire conservatives, the idea of having workers unite with more power and freedom threatens their control at the top. The ads released painted a false picture about the Employee Free Choice Act, claiming that unions will bully workers into joining them with an attempt to take money from the employee. According to the Huffington Post, the Heritage Foundation "frame(s) the EFCA issue based on bald-faced lies. Business-financed 'think tanks' like Heritage propagandize workers against their own interests in psychologically sophisticated ways, often pulling on their heartstrings and framing their anti-union stance as 'common sense.'"
Average Americans need to be more informed about what is going in the country, but also where to get their information. The argument isn't about holding a liberal or conservative ideology, it's about facts that are based on truth and not information based on twisted logic. Americans need to learn to dig a little deeper to find honest reporting, not just believe something that falls in their lap at the expense of a billionaire funded think tank or news organization.